‘The Kerala Story’: Calls to halt release of controversial Bollywood movie about conversions to Islam

A complaint has been lodged with India's federal ministry of information and broadcasting against an upcoming contentious Bollywood film for allegedly portraying Kerala as a "terrorist state".

The teaser of The Kerala Story released earlier this month claims that nearly 32,000 women from the southern state of Kerala, now run by the communist party, converted to Islam and joined the Islamic State in the last decade.

Aravindakshan BR, a Tamil Nadu-based journalist, has written to the federal ministry and India's film certification board chairperson Prasoon Joshi to place a ban on the film unless the makers provide evidence against their claim.

The film is directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah.

In the teaser, actor Adah Sharma can be seen wearing a niqab and standing in front of barbwires with a snow-clad mountain in the background.

The actor introduces herself as Shalini Unnikrishnan, who wanted to become a nurse and serve humanity, but converted to Islam and became a terrorist.

The character says she eventually landed in jail in Afghanistan, adding that a “dangerous game” of religious conversion is being openly played in Kerala.

The makers, without providing evidence, claimed that the film is based on real-life events and there have been 32,000 conversions - all women - who are "buried in deserts of Syria and Yemen".

The teaser, since its release, has received heavy criticism for making sweeping statements without providing evidence to support the claim.

Mr Aravindakshan also sent out petitions to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who responded by directing the chief of state police to take appropriate action.

"If the movie The Kerala Story is released in theatres or OTT platform with false information, it will have bad consequences in society," the journalist said in his letter to the chief minister.

"This film is against the unity and sovereignty of India and tarnishes the credibility of all intelligence agencies of India.

"Therefore, the Kerala police should call Sudipto Sen... and investigate the reports of which Indian intelligence agency the film was based on.”

The film appears to have been based on the four Kerala women, who accompanied their husbands to join the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (Isis-K) but are now lodged in an Afghanistan prison. The women had reportedly travelled to Nangarhar in Afghanistan in the years 2016-18.

However, there is no official or confirmed report that suggests 32,000 women from the Indian state converted to Islam and joined the terrorist organisation.